Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sayulita I like to call it See you later

When traveling there are few places that haunt you to come back like Sayulita does. That is why I call it See You Later. This is a little village just over the mountain and through the jungle from Puerto Vallarta. It is a really neat drive if you have the guts to drive in Mexico. We have been looking for great locations in the Puerto Vallarta area to represent back here in The States to potential snow birds. I really love this little village. When we arrived we drove down this little street pictured above. It didn't look like much, of course that is how everything in Mexico is, they hide things behind walls. After we drove down this street it just kind of opened up into this quaint little town.

This is known as a surfer beach. It reminds me of an old hippie town. Everything is beautiful and laid back. The beach front is gorgeous and they have really great restaurants and hotels right there. You would never know this if you just drove by. We thought we were being so adventurous coming to check out this town. When we got here it was full of gringos just like me! This is a big retirement community with a lot of people from Canada living here. There is a wonderful development of new homes along the beach. You have to have the get a way from it all attitude to live here. Personally it is too small for me. I am a city girl that needs a lot of entertainment and choices. However I can't get this place out of my mind. I will be in Puerto Vallarta soon and we plan to visit Sayulita while we are there. I will be updating my site with the new construction prices and pictures and a link to the sites there. This place is like a secret favorite spot.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let me explain a Short Sale to you

Many people today are facing really stressing decisions. When someone is unemployed for a while their bills start to overwhelm them. The first instinct is to try to save the house. Some people will take every penny they have just to make that mortgage payment. With home values in a drastic free fall most homeowners have lost most of their equity. If you can hang in there until the market returns you might be alright but what do you do if you now owe more than your house is worth? You do a short sale.

Some people just sit back and let their home get foreclosed on. This is bad for you and the entire economy. A short sale is when you negotiate with the bank to sell your house and they accept less than you owe. The Realtor Association has been vigilant in getting the government to push the banking industry into working with you and me (the Realtor) to get your home sold. This past April they sent a standard set of rules that the banks are supposed to adhere to.

The best rule for you the home owner is if you work with them at the time of closing of the sale they will give you cash for keys. It is anywhere from $1000.00 to $2000.00. this is to help you move. The government has told the banking industry that they have pay the Realtors commission but limit is to 6%. This is good because a short sale takes an incredible amount of time out of the Realtor. Before this rule a Realtor would work sometimes 18 months only to be told by the bank sorry no paycheck for you!

If you are employed and have decided you don't want your house anymore and that you'd like to just get rid of it because there is no value a short sale will not work for you. In order to be an acceptable candidate you must have a hardship. Losing your job, losing a spouse, getting transferred these are acceptable hardships.

Another good thing about a short sale is that the government has passed a little tax loop hole for you. If you short sell your house the difference between what you owe the bank and what your house sold for used to be a taxable gain! I know this sounds nuts but if you sold your home for less and the bank forgave you the difference our government looked at that as a gift or some kind of gain and they taxed you on it. Really you can't get blood from a stone but they do try. Now if you short sale your house the tax rules give you a pass on this tax. Now here is where you have to pay attention. . . If you get foreclosed on you may be responsible for this tax!!!

So I'd say there is incentive to work with the bank and not just walk away. Also by doing a short sale the price of the house usually sells for 30% more than a house that has been foreclosed on. So by working with the bank and your Realtor it benefits all of us and helps stop this spiraling decline of values.

You would think that the bank is eager to work these out. No they are not! There are all sorts of reasons for this. I call it getting through the gatekeeper. The bank likes to see a house on the market for at least 90 days before they are willing to even talk about working out a short sale. The want to see a market history that you actually tried to get a sale price of what you owe on the house. They also want to see your financial statement. If you have 25g's in the bank forget about it! If that money is in your retirement account they won't touch it for now.

My job as a Realtor is to get through the gatekeeper. I will call these people several times a week and be treated like an idiot from them until one day they decide to work with me. One day they will be kind and the next day we can end up starting all over again. I often wonder about these people that work for the bank. Are they so overwhelmed with calls and other short sales that they can't possibly work effectively? Do they sleep well at night knowing that they made it a step harder for some poor guy in Ohio to work with the bank? Do these people have any training or do they know what they are really doing?

By the time you really get the bank on board you have usually had a offer that you called them about for several weeks. Finally you will know if they are working with you if they order an appraisal. The problem is we are in a declining market. An appraisal in todays market is worth less three months from now. So if that buyer walks away from the offer after waiting patiently for the bank to respond you now have an appraisal that will be too high in the present market.

If your loan on the house is an FHA loan the bank will only order two appraisals. I have to tell you the appraisers can only give todays market value and some of these guys aren't really that good. The bank has to handle the short sale according to FHA rules. The bank is going to ask FHA to give them the difference in what the house sold for and what you owed. This is what FHA is all about it is the insurance on the loan. Our government insured that you would pay this loan. That is why you paid extra money in closing costs when you purchased and you also had that ugly monthly MIP (mortgage insurance premium). I think our government has to get a little tougher with these lenders before they reward their business behavior with the insurance checks.

It is a quagmire but it is still worth the effort because it helps our entire country to do the right thing and try to get the best price for your house.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Some thoughts on the Health Care battle

Stop me if I'm wrong but is John Boehner on our side? He wants to stop the health care bill that was voted on last year. I understand this fear of socialized medicine. I am a self payer. That means I don't work for the government or a big company that gives me health care insurance. I don't look forward to big fat pension or double dipping into retirement. Again I am self pay, which means I am a "have not". It seems it is "The Have Nots" against "The Haves". Or maybe it is the other way around.

Anyway yesterday I received a letter from Medical Mutual my health care insurance. This letter was to inform me about what to expect with the new health care reform. I was a little nervous when I started reading it. In fact, I waited to read it when I had time to really think about what I was about to read.

I was shocked by how wonderful the news was! In this new reform;

.I am allowed to go to the doctor and get immunizations without charge.
2.I am allowed to get preventive health care with out charge!
3.My son can be on my insurance until he is 26 years old.
4.If I have a child that has health issues they have to insure him until age 19.
5.They are no longer allowed to put a lifetime cap on my insurance just a yearly one.

Can someone please tell me what is wrong with this

I have been afraid to go to the doctor for over two years. Every time I have gone it has cost me big bucks! Once my doctor wanted a test done and told me to go to a certain place to get it. I had to pay for the test out of pocket because of some insurance double talk that made the place I got the test not to be covered. Do you think my doctor would call me back after I got the bill? Do you think the insurance company cared? No, it took me two years to pay it off!

Am I missing something here about Health care? I was thrilled with the news I received yesterday. John Boehner can you please explain to me why this is bad?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sandy Maline Cleveland Real Estate: Big Versus small

Sandy Maline Cleveland Real Estate: Big Versus small: "In today's world it seems people keep thinking with the Big Box mentality. Some think Big is better. Sometimes Big is better! Sometimes yo..."

Big Versus small

In today's world it seems people keep thinking with the Big Box mentality. Some think Big is better. Sometimes Big is better! Sometimes you can get a better price when you order in large quantities. Sometimes a large company can out do a smaller company on price because of shear volume.

In Real Estate this is not the case. In fact the larger the company the more expensive it will be to work with them. Usually when I pay top dollar for something I want the best quality or the best service. There are a few industries that have been able to duplicate their service or product in such a way that they can deliver the best quality and service while continuing to grow to enormous sizes.

The hotel and entertainment industry such as Disney, Harrahs and Marriott come to my mind as symbols of large companies that have been able to keep quality and service while becoming huge entities.

Real Estate service can not simply be duplicated because of the enormous emotions that go into a purchase or sale. I've trained some really great agents when I have been in management roles. Everyone always adds their unique personality. Most of those really great agents are also no longer selling real estate because of the emotional and financial roller coaster they found this business to be.

I guess you can say I'm a little fish in a big pond and that suites me just fine. Like the big box company you don't see my sign on every other street. I don't tend to have my houses on the market forever either. If a seller will actually listen to me, we will get the house sold.

The other Advantage (love that word) is I can change my marketing strategy. The big box real estate companies have what I call a broad marketing campaign. Every house gets put on that campaign. The only way something different happens is if the agent is willing to pay extra money on top of what they are paying the big company already for the broad based marketing campaign.

Evey home is unique. With the internet I can get a home in front of the right buyer by being extremely internet savvy. I am constantly learning new tricks to stay on top of this ever changing technology. A large company can't do this. Have you ever seen a real estate listing on line without a picture? You will never see one of my listings on line with out a picture. That is just a small example of quality and service you can expect with a little fish in a big pond!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A brief description about Mortgages

The American dream of home ownership is becoming a nightmare to the middle class. It absolutely amazes me that the general public still has the mind set that because they are "American" and live in the United States that they are some how protected from fraud and theft. People sign mortgage documents without reading what they are signing.

When you purchase a mortgage there are a few different options to keep in mind. First is the Government backed loans referred to as Ginnie Mae loan products. These are VA and FHA loans. What this means is the government issue insurance to back the loan. These loans were designed to give the people of this country an opportunity to purchase a home with a fixed rate over a manageable period of time like 30 years.

A VA loan is a loan product specifically designed for our Veterans. If you served in our countries Navy, Air Force, Army or Marines Corps you are entitled to a zero down loan. The cost of this loan is a little more expensive than a traditional loan and most of the cost can either be mortgaged or paid by the seller. The mortgage insurance for this loan is paid by the government. The benefits of this loan are that the mortgage insurance is paid for you and you can purchase with no money down. You will need to show some money however to qualify for the loan.

An FHA loan is 3 1/2% down with mortgage insurance. There are several FHA loan products. One of the best loan products that is frequently overlooked is called a 203k. This loan allows the borrowers to purchase a home that may need work. Say you have your eye on a house that needs a new roof or replacement windows. You can purchase the home for whatever price you negotiate with the seller then add the cost of repair to the loan. You will have to put 3 1/2% down on the total amount that you will finance. The great thing about this is the house transfers title and then you can have the work done and the money is in an escrow account to pay the bill when the work is finished. This loan isn't cheap but you usually get a house for a better price when it needs work so it all evens out at the end.

There are traditional loans called Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. These generally start at 5% down. Some of these will stop charging mortgage insurance at 15% loan to value. Meaning if your home is worth $100,000 and your mortgage is $85,000 your $15,000 in equity is 15% loan to value. Private mortgage insurance prices vary depending on how much you have in equity and what your credit score is.

When I refer to Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae these are the names of the products that resell on the secondary mortgage market.These are called Mortgage backed securities. People invest in these and until recently it was a pretty good investment. By making this an investment product it frees the money up to lend more. What has happened is it kind of got out of whack. This was a good thing and it helped get our country out of the 1930 depression. When people lose jobs and were unable to pay their mortgages it created a financial tsunami. When people default on their loan these securities go down in value. If there aren't investors in these securites there is no money. The Federal Government has been investing in these and of course selling these securites.

There are several types of loan products that you can get in all three groups. The best and safest is the fixed rate. This can be for any amount of time. Generally people do 30 years. If you make one extra payment a year you will save thousands of dollars and payoff your mortgage in 20 years. There is a loan product that is kind of hard to find it is called a biweekly mortgage. It is set up on the extra payment principle. You take whatever the 30 year mortgage payment is and divide in half and pay that every two weeks. This will result in an extra payment a year which will pay down your loan in 20 years. You can get a 20, 15,10 year amortized loan as well.

The adjustable rate loan (ARM) is a little more tricky. This is where you really need to read the fine print. If you see an ARM described as 3/2 that means every 3 years it can adjust up or down by 2%. These loans are based on different indexes. Most are based on Treasury securities rates. The lender adds a margin to whatever index they are basing their ARM on. Basically the cost of money with a profit added in.

Always make sure there is a cap on the ARM. There are different kinds of Caps. There is a cap of the life of the loan. Meaning it will not ever adjust over say 7.5%. There is a cap on the amount you can adjust on in every adjustable cycle. Like 5 years or 3 years.

Third Federal has an interesting ARM. They are showing a 5/1 and a 3/1. This means the rate is locked for the first 5 or 3 year cycle. Then it adjusts every year up or down by 2%. They state that you can re lock your rate anytime for the cost of $495 The cap on the life of this loan is 5%. This is a great product if you are planning to move soon or want to take advantage of the lower rate and make extra principle payments. In general adjustable rate loans are risky especially when we are at the bottom of the market. You know it can only go up. The savings is usually 1%.

Another loan is the interest only loan. This is one that I think the banks should start to take another look at. When you have people in a recession like we are in. If we can modify their present loans to interest only for a set time like 5 years then we can keep people in their homes. If after 5 years they haven't been able to correct their situation, they probably won't and should look for less expensive living situations. An interest only loan can cut the cost of the payment in half.

There are interest only loans out there, but the problem is most of these products are put out by mortgage companies. Mortgage companies are in the sales business. Their entire goal is just to sell mortgage loan products. After a mortgagee purchases one of their products Mortgage companies generally sell the loans.The servicing of these loans go to several companies that get paid a fee to collect the money on the debt instrument. The problem with that is the companies that do the servicing aren't that great. I have heard horror stories about the servicing company double charging, or foreclosing on a home because money that was withdrawn from an account went to the old servicer and didn't get credited to the new servicer. By the time a borrower can get the situation repaired there is usally all sorts of penalties and fees that you have to try to get waived. Most of these companies are incredibly hard to work with.

In short get a fixed rate loan try to make principle payments or one extra payment a year if you can. If you do a ARM be careful understand it completely before doing it. If you find you are in some sort of hardship call your bank before you get behind and try to work something out. As you can tell I'm not a fan of mortgage company loans because your loan becomes a piece of paper with no face behind it. If you work with a bank that you use on a regular basis hopefully they will help you with some sort of modification. Most important make sure wherever you get a loan from make sure they service their loans. Third Federal does not sell their loans and will always be the servicer. They do not have FHA or VA loans and tend to prefer at least 15% down. Most banks keep the servicing of the loan as another tool for the bank to earn income. Always ask about the servicing to avoid the nightmare to can result from ending up with one of the bad companiesout there.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Look what our Congress it up to now!

I recently got this in an email and it really bothered me!
The Time Has Come:

Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.

An idea whose time has come!

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform ... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We are not supposed to have an elite that is above the law.

I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.
A Constitutional Convention - this is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come. And, with the advent of modern communication, the process can be moved along with incredible speed. There is talk out there that the "government" doesn't care what the people think. That is irrelevant. It is incumbent on the population to address elected officials to the wrongs afflicted against the populace...you and me. Think about this...
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.
Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this Email to a minimum of twenty people on their Address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ."

We need to do something about this! Like write your Congressman today!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I agree with Donald Trump

Donald Trump is known as a great Real Estate investor. I have not always been a big fan of his, but I have to side with him on this one. Donald called Inman Feisal Abdul Rauf, lets just call him Inmam for this article. He is the man who wants to build the Mosque in New York close to Ground Zero in New York. Donald offered this man 25% more plus all closing costs to purchase the building from this man with the agreement that Inman would not build a Mosque within a certain amount of blocks from Ground Zero. The man countered Donald.

Her are the details. Inman bought the building for 4.85 million and some change. Donald offered 6.2 million and some change. Inmam countered at 20 million.He has since been quoted to say if someone wants to give me 18 - 20 million I will sell it. Donald's take on this guy is that he doesn't have the money to build a Mosque. In fact Donald thinks this guy is using emotional blackmail on the people of the United States to get rich or richer! Talk about cold hearted business!

Are we going to let this guy pull this off? He has gotten the public so upset and outraged using our countries laws of freedom to fuel the fire. Like a game of chess what is the next move here?

Donald doesn't want to give into Imam's use of emotional blackmail to make him rich. Inmam has a pretty shady background. Otherwise this is this guys style! Ugly yes but do we let him win and get the best of us?

Donald has stated that Inmam has stated that he would be interested in selling. Donald and I think this guy is grandstanding and the he has no real interest in building a Mosque. Do we call his bluff? What happens if Donald and I are wrong and he does build this Mosque so close to Ground Zero.

I say lets call his bluff and see what he does. If he comes up with the money to actually get the building started then we can start using other methods to delay and add expense to his plans.

I looked at the building site and it really isn't that big! Usually a Mosque takes a lot more space. I thought that a Mosque would require more area for parking. This property is a building that has buildings on both sides of it with no space in between. Every Mosque that I have seen is a monument style building with lots of space around it. Plus the entry of the site has to face Mecca their most holy city in Islam. Does this site allow that? I can't tell from Cleveland, Ohio. So unless I'm wrong the property might not be the proper site according to their Islamic rules to even construct is correctly!

Lets get smart here and stop letting Inmam manipulate us on our emotions. Lets use our heads here. I believe that Donald Trump is on to something. This guys is trying to pull off the biggest real estate deal in New York with the use of emotional blackmail! I guess that is a legal form of terrorism!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Program Hr 3648 Mortgage Relief

If you are having trouble paying your mortgage because of job loss or health issues. You can find some help out there. There are a few situations where you can apply to your lender for a loan modification. This is a tedious task and requires a lot of paperwork.

In order to qualify for a loan modification you need to show that you are in a temporary hardship situation. Most of the time when the mortgagee loses a job they find they can't pay their mortgage. After exhausting their savings many people have gone into their 401k's incurring expensive penalties just to keep their heads above water.

A loan modification can give you a few months to try to resolve the hardship and get back on track. Nothing is free. A lot of these tack on a few extra years or thousands of dollars so that you can pay this back on the back end of the loan.

After you've exhausted all your savings and still can't get a job or your new employment is paying far less than you used to get paid you will find that you may need to sell your house. Downsizing to a less expensive house would be the logical thing to do. The problem is most people are under water on their mortgage.

The government passed a law called HR3848. This program is a Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. This is to help stem the tide of foreclosures by removing the tax burden resulting in debt reduced through mortgage restructuring or debt forgiveness in connection with short sales.

I have aligned myself with Program HR 3648 as the Cuyahoga Representative. This company has named itself after the debt relief bill. This is a privately sponsored Nation-wide initiative to help the me help the homeowner successfully negotiate the process of a short sale.

The importance of this initiative is to help someone who qualifies for this program to restructure their lives and stop drowning in debt. It also helps the housing stock from continuing to decline in values. A short sale sells on average at 87% of the value of a regular home in the neighborhood. A foreclosed home sells for 57% of value.

It is best for all of us to support this process. The problem is handling a short sale is very time consuming. Now with Program HR 3648 helping me in this process of the sale we can get these properties sold and off the court foreclosure list.

Call me if you need my help.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Buying a bank owned home and dealing with Repairs

I recently passed the class for the designation of 203 K Specialist. What that means is I have been properly trained to help buyers get a loan that includes money to do repairs on the property they buy. I have been doing to this type of loan for years but now it is popular because of all the bank owned properties out there selling at below market values. If you are planning to purchase a property and live there you will qualify for this type of loan. This loan is not for investors or new construction. It is an FHA loan that, with a lot of paperwork can get you money for a new roof, remodel a kitchen or bath, replace windows or even buy appliances! There are two kinds of this type loan. One is called Streamline. This is the easier of the two. A buyer can get up to $35,000 for repairs above the cost of the purchase price. There are all sorts of rules about what can be done and what can't. This type of loan can not do structural repairs. If structural work is needed the buyer has to do the Standard 203k loan. There are only a few lenders who do these. It is important to use a lender that is good at this or it can take months! I have partnered with Lowes home improvement store to help people make this an easier transaction. In turn working with this program we can get some of this housing stock sold, put people to work and repair some of the blight in our neighborhoods. So if you are afraid to buy a house because of the possible repair bill give me a call and I'll put my 25 years of experience to work for you. I am also working to get my Certification in Real Estate Construction so that I can be more helpful in this process. After over 3000 house inspections I'm pretty good at this already. Just don't ask me to run a chain saw!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Poker Face

I don't have a poker face. This has caused me some difficulty in my growing years. As a child I just didn't know that you could see my thoughts on my face. I thought my parents were somehow telepathic that they knew what I was thinking. It didn't occur to me until Junior High School that it was me and my facial expressions that were giving my thoughts away. I had this Principle who said "you know I can see what you are thinking, it is written all over your face".

Because of this flaw in my general personality, I decided that I would just be truthful. I really had no other choice. This has gotten me into trouble over the years. It has also been one of the core strengths in my business! My clients tell me all the time that they appreciate that I am honest. Well I don't really have a choice do I!

I have always studied top producers in my profession. I have been able to achieve the status of top 3% in sales in Ohio and have held on to that level for more than 20 years. For whatever reason I have not been able to get to that top 1% level.

Some of the people in the top 1% level have teams so they may not really be doing all that much more than I am. But there are a few agents that come to my mind that have created this powerful icon of themselves that people just call them to come list their homes!

I have studied these people and many of them are my friends in this business. They all have one thing that I do not have and that is a poker face! They can sit across a table from you and keep their personal thoughts masked behind their poker face. I am not saying they don't have some finesse that maybe I could use a little more of, but come on I do have people skills or I wouldn't be where I am today.

What kind of person do you really want to do business with? One that can't lie and manipulate you or one that can? Maybe having a poker face is what it takes to be a great salesman. I read the book The Worlds Greatest Salesman, it is a little book written by Og Mandino published in 1968. It is about working really hard with honesty. I loved the book so much I gave it out to all the agents I worked with that year. If being the top 1% means working with a poker face well, I'll just be happy at the top 3% for now!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Market is coming back!!!

I can feel it, the market is coming back! After the April 30 tax credit deadline the market just went to sleep for about six weeks. Showings and inquiries were way down.

There is nothing that drives me crazy like not having enough work to do! This past week have shown signs of activity. The MLS has had properties that are not bank owned actually go into pending some of which were in the luxury market. My listings are getting activity and some really good interest I am thrilled to report!

So if you have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for a great deal, stop sitting. The values are incredible out there. I am showing properties priced $50,000 less then the seller purchased them for. The rates are at the lowest they have ever been.

If you are a seller and need to do a short sale give me a call. I have been doing those before it was popular. I am an Independent Agency which means your privacy is protected with me. I won't charge hidden fees like some of my competition does.

The foundation of my business is based on Honesty, Integrity with Ethical business practices. No smoke and mirrors, no hiding behind a team, just old fashioned good customer service.
You can contact me at sandymaline@gmail.com or 440-554-2260

Monday, July 12, 2010

Super Deals in Cleveland

The month of May has been one of the worst Months for home sales since 2001. The tax incentive seemed to bring buyers out until the end of April. What the public doesn't seem to understand is the current interest rate 4.5% is a far better deal then the tax incentive program. The slow month of May brought housing prices down again so now is really a great time to make a purchase! Not only are you getting rock bottom prices but the interest rate is lower than it has ever been in decades!

If you are considering a move in this market and you alread owna home sell it first if you can. Buying a home before you sell is very tricky. The only way I would recommend that you purchase first is if you have been relocated to a new area or there is some other motivating issue forcing the move.

I have seen some of the best Real Estate deals this past month and it is very enticing to want to jump in on one of these. The other day I was searching the MLS and there was a one bedroom condo in Rocky River for $19,000.00 can you believe that? It needs some work but this is like buying at 60% off! Call me if you want to take Advantageof the market.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Real Estate Teams, What is the consumers benefit?

Absolutely nothing! When you see a real estate team advertised what you are really seeing is a subgroup of agents packaging their listings together to make them look more successful on the marketplace. Usually you will find one or two good agents as the leaders of the team. A productive agent normally gets a better share of the commission from the broker for whom he or she works. What these agents do is the recruit agents that are part time, new or just low performers to the team offering them a higher share of commission on their transactions in exchange for their use of the Team name. The leaders of these teams get an override from these agents. One particular team is advertising that they did 124 transactions last year. As a consumer you might think this is a good number. It is all smoke and mirrors. This team has 18 agents working under the team name. 18 divided by 124 equals less than 7 transactions a piece! If I only did 7 transactions in a year I would be out of business! The other problem with the team is the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing nor does it even care. It is all about money and how many players they can recruit to the group. When you see an Independent Broker like myself I don't have a team to hide behind. I don't have a big company with attorneys who work on my payroll. When you work with me, you get me. I don't have an attorney on my payroll. I have my feet to the fire and can promise you that you will get an honest hard working agent who will do her best so that you refer me to others and use me over and over again like my past customers do now.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Real Estate Companies are they all alike?

How do you decide on who to list your house with? Some people think that the bigger the company the better off they will be in selling their home. This isn't so in today's real estate business.

Back when I first started selling real estate in the mid 80's it was essential to go to work in the office. We were computerized but that was the extent of it. There was one or two computers for all 50-60 agents to share. We would wait in line for the chance to get on line and search for properties for our buyers.

Every morning the office secretary would run an update on the market. This list would hang on the wall and the first thing you would do is check the list. It would have what was new on the market, expired, pending, reduced and sold. All this information was black and white, no pictures.

When a new listing was posted that might fit your buyers criteria you would run out and drive by it. Then if it was really nice looking from the outside you would try to see what inside amenities it had written on the printout. If it looked good you would call your buyer and try to get them to make an appointment. Once a week you would send out a list of homes that might meet their needs.

Every Tuesday we would caravan to all the new listings that were put on Brokers tour. This was a great way to get your property out there into the agents mind in case they have buyer or find a buyer for your listing. This was a lot of work!

Now we have a computer system that lets us work out of our home offices. The MLS has up to 25 color pictures of the home, an aerial view and map to see locations. Not only are dimensions available but the Realtor can readily look up past sale and mortgage history of any particular home.

With all this information so readily available you would think this would make for better showings. The buyers gets an email about a property that fits their criteria. They can view all of this in the comfort of their home. Nevertheless we still get showing that give feedback "like well my buyer doesn't like splits" or "my buyer wants a bigger yard". I always want to say did you look at the information online?

With all this technology what makes a company different? Everyone knows the biggest companies name. They can easily find their website. The large companies have a market plan that their agents use. It might be their website and nothing more! The good agents pay extra for additional marketing. My personal monthly expenditures are focused on Internet marketing. I am on all the same websites as any of the bigger companies but as an independent I pay extra dollars to be as accessible on all sorts of websites even though all my listings are on all the other companies sites as well. Market values,Realtor.com's expanded site, Market leader, Cleveland.com, Trulia, Zillow the list expands daily. Also strategic targeted Post card marketing campaigns.

It isn't the companies size that matters it what is this agent doing above and beyond the normal MLS and Internet marketing. What other things are they going to do to get it sold. Are they still doing the things that used to work in the 80's. I was one of the first people to have my own computer at my office when I was with the "big company". I was one of the first agents to use a digital camera. Staying on the cutting edge of innovation is essential. So when you are looking at who you should hire to buy or sell a home don't think big box when it comes to real estate. Think Guerrilla marketing. Experience and knowledge with a great reputation is what I bring to your table.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You didn't miss out on the Homebuyer credit

You didn't throw your money away if you didn't get in on the home buyers credit. The rates just dropped to 4.6% for a fixed 30 year loan. This is down from 5.25%. To break that down if you purchased a home for $100,000.00 at 5.25% with a 30 year amortization your principle and interest (PI) should be $636.11. With the lower rate the new PI would $607.24. Doesn't sound like much but it is a savings of $10,393.20 over the life of the loan!

Also if you make one extra principle payment a year on a 30 year loan you will pay that loan off in 20 years instead of 30. This is another way to make HUGE SAVINGS!The reason this works is the extra payment takes from your principle but your payment is based on 30 years, when the principle gets a little chunk paid down the amortization starts to ramp up, paying more off faster.

We have a new wave of bank owned properties coming on the market. Listen baby boomers who lost some retirement money, this is a chance to make some of that money back! If you are good with home improvements, fixing and repairing things around the house put that talent to work.

If you purchase a bank owned home for $60,000.00 and you use your equity of your present home to purchase it outright. The equity line will be approximately 3.4% depending on what bank you use. This will be a variable loan usually amortized over 15 to 20 years. So lets say it is amortized over 20 years. Your initial PI will be $558.13 a month. Add insurance and property taxes the payment will be $758.13. You rent the house out at $1200.00 per month. That is $441.87 profit a month! What you do is take half of that and pay extra on the loan paying the principle down. If you can convert the loan to a fixed rate after some time all the better. An equity line doesn't cost anything. A regular mortgage costs about $2500.00 to put in place. Most equity loans have a time variable. For instance it can be what is called a 3/5 arm. That means it can go up or down 3% at the time of adjustment every 5 years. Look for this type of term instead a monthly variable. This will protect you from the rate changing and give you a little time to be ready for it by paying down the principle with the extra $200.00 a month. After 10 years you should have the house paid off. The entire amount can now go toward your retirement or you can sell it and cash out.

I can't think of a better way to make money other than winning the lottery! It isn't all bread and butter though. You will need to make sure you are renting to a good reliable tenant. There are some really good companies out there that will do background and credit checks for $30.00. Call me today if this is something you would be interested in.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Mexican Adventure

Arrived in Puerto Vallarta Mexico with no trouble. Rented a car and got to the condo. Pedro gave us a nice studio suite with a view of the ocean and pool from the balcony. We are three stories up so we can turn the air conditioner off at night and open the balcony window and listen to the waves of the ocean.
The waves are unusually high for this area. The people who live here are a little freaked out about it. We are getting settled in and setting up computer, getting parking tags etc. We joined Golds Gym for the month I am really excited because they have spinning and aerobics, yoga and boxing! For dinner we ventured out to The Romantic zone. This is becoming our favorite area. It has loads of restaurants and shops on the oceanfront. There are some older condos that we plan to check out. We had dinner at Marazuls and Jack stepped out of his comfort zone and had Shrimp Stuffed Pablano peppers. They were very good along with rice and beans. Something he would never ever eat in the States. We are going to try to lose weight while we are here. We stopped in a bar called Nacho Daddy and met some Expats. Want to buy one of those T shirts before we leave. They are always so happy to be here and always encourage the move!! We met a women who had her foot in a cast like boot. She was looking for Tylenol, I looked in my purse but since I changed purses I didn’t have any. We started talking and it turns out that she retired here at age 50 from Texas. She said she has been coming down here since she was eighteen. She downsized all her stuff and put her stuff in storage to make the move. She got a job as a Hotel manager. Then she opened a bar with a group of people and along the way she fell in love. Great story! We also met some other Expats who had too many tomatoes that they had grown and this seemed to be their biggest problem!

Jan 24, 2010
First big day. We planned to go to San Sebastian, this is a small mountain town that has its own homegrown coffee. We started our day by going to Golds Gym and did the tread mill. Because it is Sunday they don’t have any classes scheduled. We had a real hard time getting our act together. I must of gone up and down the 3 flights of stairs 8 times today. Every time we would start out we had to turn around and go back to get what ever it was we forgot. Going to San Sebastian si not easy, now you have to understand the way driving is in Mexico. You go right to turn left. You can only do this at certain left turn lanes. It is very confusing and you have to know where you are going way ahead of time which poses a problem when you don’t know where you are going. So we knew that we will be turning around and over passing our destination a lot. Well we couldn’t find the road to San Sebastian so we ended up in Neuvo Vallarta. Drove around and decided we don’t like Neuvo Vallarta. This is a place you go if you really want to be in Florida. It is very pretty everything perfect and nothing is close for walking to a store or restaurant. Seeing lots of golf carts. We ate at Guidos and had salads. We are trying to lose weight so this is what we are going to eat. Jack is being a sport about it all. So far real estate prices seem to be 200k and up. 200k appears to buy you a one bdrm 800 to 1400 sq ft depending on the view and condition. There doesn’t seem to be any system for a buyer to use to find all the information. Exhausted we went back to the Condo and went to our favorite massage shop. We got 75 minute massages for $25 or 300 pesos. They were great and we were very sore I think from traveling. They gave us a room with two tables and we had a male and a female. The male worked on me and at first I was nervous because he had work boots on and just a white T shirt. It turned out that he was fabulous!! His name is Rapheal and I will be back to see him again! We went to the pool that is on the roof top. It has a beautiful view of the mountains. This pool is quiet without all the vacation activity. We met a women who comes down every year for a few weeks. And we met and older Canadian couple that has been coming here as well for years. They are not timeshare owners but they came for 3 weeks. They didn’t want to go back and plan to spend more time here next year. They said the wind chill factor was 42 below zero at home.Of course that is ceilius not Fahrenheit It occurred to me that Canada doesn’t have a Florida. So this is their Florida. The Mexican government works with the Canadian government to exchange medical care since they are both socialized. After a rest and shower we went back to the Romantic Zone for dinner at Daquari Dicks. Again I watched what we ate I had a Asian salad and Jack broke down and had braised short ribs. We stopped at a bar called Joe Jacks Fish Shack where I met the owner who came from Iowa. He told me to email him if I had any questions or if he could help us in any way. He was in the process of building a condo for 200k one bedroom with a view. He didn’t think I could cut it here in Real Estate. Said everybody is in real estate here. What else is new!

Jan 25 2010 Monday
Started our day at Golds gym. I took a spinning class and it was in Spanish!! They have the best equipment here. The bikes have a heart rate and calorie monitor plus the spin wheel has a numbered adjustment for resistance. I am learning my Spanish numbers real quick this way. Tough class burned 368 mexcian calories which is like 800 american. We decided to go to Sayulita, I call it See U Later. Going through the mountains was a blast see picture above. We missed the exit of course and drove about 10 miles too far. When we pulled into Sayulita it was a cute little town. We were starving so we parked the car and walked around. Everything is kind of hillside leading to the Ocean. We found a fabulous beachfront restaurant called Don Pedros. I had a fabulous seared Tuna salad with a light lemon dressing. Jack had and ate a whole pizza I had some crust. The good thing is he didn’t have any meat on it. So I made him walk all over. We found this really cool cemetery on the way to a special beach see attached pictures below.

Then we found the most incredible Hotel see pictures with insane views!!. I have to say I really liked Sayulita. I wouldn’t want to live there but a couple nights would be great. On our way back to the car I saw a man standing outside an office with a manila envelope. I asked him if he was a Realtor and he said yes! He practiced real estate in Canada then 5 years ago made them move there. He loves it gave me his card and was happy to set up an appointment just to talk. He said we could use his phone and office if we needed too. Really nice guy I liked him right away. Hopefully we can do some sort of business together. Possibly referral!

This is the view from over the pool shot and this picture of Jack is the path to get to the hotel. Prices from $110 a night to $950 a night for a 3 bdrm house . We asked for a brochure they gave us a piece of paper with the rates. A grounds keeper told us to talk to Giavonni at the blue hut on the beach. Giavonni was no where to be found. He’s the property manager. I know that I could do a better job marketing this place!!! We left Suyalita exhausted from all the walking and went back to the condo. We were really beat so we took a short rest and shower before we met with Keith. He owns a Guest house here in Puerto Vallarta in an area that is either the Romantic Zone or Rio Cuale . This is a very Gay friendly area. Keith also owns a real estate company in Cleveland. I like to think of his company as a kind of brother company to mine. We met at a Favorite restaurant called the River CafĂ©. It is a beautiful outdoor restaurant with a view of the River and there are Iguanas in the trees all around. The food here is fabulous and it is considered expensive. We are buying Keith dinner to get as much info from him as we can. He would do this for free because we are friends but I felt better in starting this way. He talked about all sorts of important stuff. Like if you get pulled over by the police they will hand you a folded paper you have to be humble and treat them will absolute respect. Put about 250 pesos in then folded paper and give it back apologizing to him for the inconvenience. Another neat thing is Mexico has socialized medical. They have low taxes and support most of the government off oil. No one is really hungry here anymore and they have lowered their teen pregnancy rate by 7% . Their childbirth rate has gone down and so has the birth deaths. They are also lower than USA. To get anything done here takes a whole day. So if we decide to apply for a permit of any sort plan on a whole day. Be patient! I guess that will be Jacks job! Keith doesn’t feel real positive about me doing Real Estate down here. He thought I should open a sauerkraut store instead. He said it is hard to get into the mls here and getting paid for a transaction could be difficult. I told him my plan but he preferred the sauerkraut idea. See in Puerto Vallarta there are shortages of certain things. Keith likes to have a Rueben party on New Years day and finding sauerkraut is a big challenge. The point he was making is find what is missing and fill it. Real Estate has too many hurdles. He also thought we should invest in a multi family property in his area. Not bad advise . Keith is an Urban Planner so this is where most of his insight comes from. He took us to some local bars where Jack was eye candy to the patrons. I had a blast!!! Jack is a really good sport.

Friday, April 16, 2010

14 days left to get in on the Tax incentives to purchase a home

Today is April 16, 2010. There are only 14 days left to take advantage of the tax credit for purchasing a home. There is no talk about extending this credit at this time! You don't have to be a first time home buyer to take advantage of this!!! You can get a $6500.00 tax credit by purchasing a home and $8000.00 credit for a first time home buyer. You must be under contract by the end of April and close before June 30 2010. You don't have to have your present home sold to qualify for this. If you are thinking about selling your home, GET IT ON THE MARKET NOW!! We don't know how the market will act, when this incentive ends. Overall the market is moving. The low end is showing a lot of movement. Prices are not starting to go up yet. We are starting to see more movement in the upper price ranges over $300,000.00. Forbes recently printed an article about Bay Village having a 32% increase in value. Unfortunately while I'd like to believe this to be true, I have to dispute the math here. I live in Bay Village so I really would like this to be true. Forbes magazine used median price ranges to compare averages. Well Bay Village has Lakefronts. A few of those Lakefronts sold. Lakefronts in Bay Village sell anywhere from the very low end of $400,000.00 to 3 million. Forbes states that the average priced home in Bay Village is $250,000.00. You can see why a few sales on the Lakefront can have a dramatic affect on the median price range.So the increase is not 32%. If it was, I would be selling my house today! If you are looking for real facts in the Cleveland Real Estate market call me I will not mislead you!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our Country can't see it's own Crisis!

I was saddened to see all the pictures of Haiti. That country has been in such turmoil for so long and this catastrophe is just unimaginable. Our country ran to aid them. We sent troupes and I hear 100 million dollars worth of help. I am glad to see this type of humanitarian efforts. We may be able to provide some relief while rebuilding the infrastructure of this country. This could actually be a turning point to come out of this devastation with a positive new beginning. The loss of lives would at the least bring something good to the people who survived if the help that comes their way can truly rebuild and dramatically change the current woes of this country. With all that said I feel like our country is in denial about it's own situation. Sending all this help and money is like having your neighbor who in the midst of bankruptcy giving you a gift of money! How can we save the world if we don't save ourselves first! Why can't we look at what is going on in this country, loss of jobs and homes, corporate corruption, health care for only the lucky and rich, and loss of retirement benefits just to mention a few. We need to see our country as if it were in a crisis too. There is an email going around that really seemed to make some sense. It said that there are 40 million people over the age of 50. If the government gave each of those people one million dollars under the following conditions we could fix our own problems.
1. Must retire this would open 40 million jobs fixing the employment crisis.
2. Must buy an American made car. Auto industry fixed!
3. Must pay off mortgage or buy a house. Housing crisis fixed!
4. Every American to get the same health care coverage, health care crisis fixed
This would cost 4 trillion dollars. We spent 3 trillion to bail out the banks. Wouldn't you rather see this happen? You know that it would actually work!
Back to health care. I think it should be a right just like and education (to grade twelve) is a right in this country. Maybe we need regulation? The hospitals are making huge money while bankrupting it's clients! Isn't that somehow a humanitarian crime.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Is anyone out there listening?

Today I read in The Plain Dealer that the government is considering asking the people of the private sector to bail out the government employee retirement benefits program. Their argument was that if we don't do this, we will suffer the loss of teachers, police, firemen and city workers! If you are a government employee you should just stop reading this because you won't like what I have to say. The article went on the say that these lucky individuals retire with twice the benefits that the private sector does. They also stated that they are excluded from paying social security taxes because they have their own system and that the private employer is burdened with 6.2% in social security taxes. This alone is enough to put most people out of business. On top of all that these government employees get their own health care and it is way better than anything the private sector can even think of getting. IS EVERYONE OUT THERE CRAZY!!! We should be having another Boston Tea Party! Things have just gotten way out of perspective. We are eliminating the middle class. Do you know what happens when you eliminate the middle class? It becomes the "Haves" against the "Have nots". This whole health care debate is just that! Well I am a "have not"! I am self employed and I won't go to the doctor unless I have to because I can't afford my monthly premium to go up anymore. I don't have anything to count on but myself for retirement. I have struggled these past 4 years to keep from going under financially. I have downsized my business. While I have done everything to cut costs and be responsible the government continues to find more ways to get more money out of you! They want additional money for garbage collection, and sewer costs have gone up. If there ever was a time for the government employees to cut back it is now!!! I can't do it anymore. I am not going to bail them out. Isn't this the system that some jerk invested in a coin collection? Why do they get 88% of their regular pay when they retire early like age 48 and I have to work until death or at least 72 years of age to get a whooping $1500.00 a month which out of that I have to pay most of it to health care costs. On top of all that did you know that your Senator or Congressmen has cart blanche to travel at our expense all over the world! Yeah that's right! Say the Governor of Ohio decides he wants to go to London for a few days. He calls someone in our government who makes all arrangements for not only him but his entourage to show up first class with everything attended to as long as he schedules a meeting with some dignitary. They don't have to accomplish anything! Just have a meeting. Meanwhile they spend 1000's of our tax payers dollars having a grand old time. This has got to stop. How do you take all this away from the "haves" and start giving some back to the "have nots"? I don't know. I do know that if I was a "have" I would fight pretty hard not to lose any of it. Meanwhile "have nots" aren't fighting!! What happened to our Declaration of Independence where "all men are supposed to be equal"? I don't see equality when the government employees who have the power to vote for our benefits have a better and different set of benefits. Why should they vote on something that doesn't affect them! Why do the people that don't benefit get to make this decision? It doesn't seem right to me. The "haves" are voting if the "have nots " should have benefits like them and now they want us to bail their system out!!Is anyone out there listening? Maybe I am becoming a Socialist but this is just inhumane.